Posted: Jul 31, 2012 8:04 PM by Breanna Roy - KPAX News
Updated: Aug 1, 2012 9:18 AM
MISSOULA- The University of Montana is paying an outside lawyer more than $200 an hour for legal counsel throughout the National Collegiate Athletic Association's investigation into the athletic department.
UM interim Director of Athletics Jean Gee said she and other top university officials, including UM president Royce Engstrom, agreed to bring in a lawyer who specializes in sports investigations.
The school signed on the Florida-based Michael L. Buckner Law Firm at $225 an hour, capped at $750 per day on Monday, and Gee said she hopes money spent now is money saved later.
"Especially if there's going to be any fines associated with any kind of penalty that may come out of an investigation," Gee said.
She said in other cases where organizations have been investigated by the NCAA, lawyers have provided evidence that helped reduce the fines or eliminate them.
Gee said the money for the added legal expense comes from the athletic department's general budget, not student athletic fees or donor money.
Gee said she's confident the department won't have to cut any salaries or programs to pay for the lawyer because it usually over-budgets.
UM plans to keep the law firm until the investigation is complete, which is likely to go on for at least another six months.
The NCAA announced its investigation in January. The organization hasn't declared what it's looking in to, but the news came on the heels of several investigations into how UM and Missoula handle sexual assault.